Chael Sonnen Disappointed by Location Change, but Ready to 'Defend Belt' vs. Silva

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The next two months should see plenty of Chael Sonnen. Not only is the UFC middleweight preparing to fight Anderson Silva in a rematch of their August 2010 classic, but he is also about to release his first book, entitled "The Voice of Reason: A V.I.P. Pass to Enlightenment." So, Sonnen should be making the media rounds for the foreseeable future.

Recently, however, Sonnen started his press tour in Rio, when the UFC announced that his fight with Silva would not take place in Brazil as originally planned, but in the United States.

Contrary to what you might expect, that move was not welcomed with open arms by Sonnen, who said he was OK with it, but had been excited by the prospect of fighting Silva on his home turf, even if some were worried for his safety.

"Yeah, I would’ve liked to have been part of a stadium show, a record-breaker," he said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "I would've definitely enjoyed the experience of walking into a hostile environment. I like that. I really enjoy the negative energy. So we lost that, but I want to pick my words carefully. The last thing I want to do is to be put in a great situation, something that dreams are made of, and then complain that it wasn’t even better. That’s not the message I want to put out, but yeah, it would have been a neat experience, and I would have liked to have had it."

Sonnen did get a small piece of the experience during his recent trip to Rio, in which he was choppered in, had his own security team, and was in and out of the country within four hours.

Even though it was a brief session, Sonnen found it enjoyable, including his interaction with the locals.

"As far as the people, it was great," he said. "Look, if I want to be famous in America, I've got to go to a fight. Walking around town, I'm just not. I'm not a celebrity, as you put it earlier. But in Brazil, everybody knows the sport."

Sonnen said that although Silva obviously has the support of many, there were many Brazilians likely rooting for him as well, because as he put it, Silva was one of several top Brazilian fighters who left the country years ago.

"They left them behind, but come back to take their money two or three times a year, and the people are sick and annoyed with it," he said.

Whether that's true or not -- and for the record, Silva still does have two homes in Brazil to go with the one in Palos Verdes Estates, California he bought last year -- Sonnen has never quite let the facts get in the way of a good promo.

Take, for example, his ongoing monologue about being the division's rightful champion. He's even gone so far as bringing a belt with him to appearances, and it doesn't appear he'll lay off the claim, even as the rematch with Silva nears.

"I am the champion, so I will always have my belt," he said. "Will Anderson bring his fake belt? Yeah, he most likely will, and I think it's embarrassing he has to do that. I think what he's doing is he's seeing the influx of new viewers the FOX deal got us, he went out to do his level best to misinform the new viewers into believing he’s champion, and he went out and got himself a fake belt. I think it’s embarrassing. I would never do that. I think it's shameful. I think it's disrespectful to everything that I’ve done and I've earned in the sport, but he continues to do it. So I’m going to destroy him once and for all, finally, on July 7, live and only on pay-per-view."

The born salesman also plugged his book, which gets released on May 15, describing it as a "political book" with a "biography feel." He said it might be the first of three books he writes.

In one of the few topics he answered related to fighting, Sonnen said he would have no problem with former Bellator middleweight champ Hector Lombard fighting for the belt if he gets past Brian Stann in his UFC debut.

"I don't think there should be any set architecture," he said. "You always hear the champion that doesn't want to fight the true best guy making arguments for why he shouldn't have to fight that guy. Rich Franklin did that. He was the champion. He's living the high life. He's fighting bums left and right. And Anderson comes into the company, he has one fight, and Rich is like, 'Well, I don't think he should get it after one fight.' Well, Rich you don't get to decide. Whoever the best guy is gets the shot. And if it’s Hector, then Hector will get the shot. Good for him. He's on quite a roll, he won a whole bunch of fights, he's in the UFC. If he can do it, good for him. Whoever the right guy is should get the shot, and I will not deny anybody."

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